Column: Live a little for better networking
Photo by Louise Fogh
I know I've said over and over that you should always be focusing on the other person. You should ask them questions and be interested in their responses. You should look for ways to support them in both their personal and professional life. At the same time, when it comes down to it you owe them one more thing.
You should be a good date.
Listen, I don't mean that you bring flowers and pay for dinner. What I mean is that you have to be ready to provide some interest for them, too.
Imagine this scenario: You've just asked them about their interests. They've told you about their recent white-water rafting trip in Idaho, about how great it was to eat out under the stars and the excitement of shooting the rapids with a bunch of their friends. Then, as often happens, they turn the question around to you. What sort of exciting stuff have you been doing lately?
If your answer is a breathless description of how you finally finished watching all seven seasons of "West Wing" (with the commentaries) on DVD. Wow, I can imagine how breathlessly they'll be listening to your every word.
Or maybe not.
Now, I'm not saying you have to go out paragliding or bungee jumping or anything that has "extreme" in its name. I'm just saying that you need to have parts of your life about which you feel truly passionate. Exploring those aspects are what will create the stories that won't bore your coffee partner to tears.
So go out and ride bikes with your kids. Take a vacation with your spouse. Heck, read a truly great book. Anything that broadens your horizons will make you a better and more interesting networker.
It just might make your life a little more fun, too.